Walking the Newlands tightrope
Western Province's commitment to developing their attacking game will be put to the test against the Griquas this weekend.
Western Province's commitment to developing their attacking game will be put to the test against the free-running Griquas this weekend.
Allister Coetzee's side have used the Currie Cup this season to show that there is more to them than just their disciplined defensive system, but with rain predicted on Saturday there is a fear that they could retreat into their conservative shells.
They face the Griquas who have shown in the last few weeks that running rugby can be winning rugby, and with pressure mounting as the semifinals approach it will be just as interesting to see whether the visitors remain as positive.
Coetzee said that although conditions might not be ideal, his team is not about to abandon the adaptations they have made to their approach and explained that the key will be to find a balance.
"I think irrespective of the conditions this is really a field that drains well. There is a bit of rain predicted for this weekend but I think that we will be positive.
"I think it is important for us to still, like we have done against the Bulls and the Cheetahs, to ensure that we keep a great balance going.
"We want to put them under pressure with the kicking game, with ball-in-hand and defensively. I think our halfbacks realise how important it is for them to make the right decisions, we have started with a process in terms of our attacking game and we are not going to change anything," he said.
After their discipline effectively cost them the game against the Sharks last week the Cape side are determined to put together a more controlled performance at home this weekend, and Coetzee was clear that it will not be an easy ride against a confident Griquas unit that is level on log points with them.
"We are up against a good quality Griquas side and if you look at where we are in the competition this is a very important game for us, it is a home game and we want to get back to winning ways again," he said.
Coetzee acknowledged that the Kimberley outfit cannot be dismissed as minnows without any firepower as they have proven that they deserve to be fighting for a place in the last four this year.
"In this Currie Cup there are no big unions and small unions, this is strength versus strength and it is a formidable Griquas side - they have got experienced players in that side who have played plenty of Currie Cup and some of them Super Rugby as well.
"They have got x-factor players if you think of Willie le Roux there, he has really been one of the best attacking backs in the competition and Rocco Jansen.
"They are all hitting form at the right time and they have a big pack of forwards who will obviously lay a good platform for them, they have got a great driving maul," he said.
This all adds up to an intriguing test for Coetzee's side at Newlands this weekend as they look to shut the Griquas down without reverting completely to the direct and narrow territory-based approach that saw them grind out so many wins in Super Rugby.
If they do find the balance that Coetzee refers to and manage to create some pressure through both their attack and defence then not only will their hopes of a home semifinal be strengthened, but they will have shown that their game really has evolved in the Currie Cup this season.
By Michael de Vries